Rowan Pelling: I'm with Cherie on this one (sorry, James)

You can say what you like about me, but slight my husband and you will get the full Mrs Blair

Share

I don't understand why everyone said Cherie Blair had made a terrible "gaffe" last week when she (allegedly, m'lud) accused Gordon Brown of telling porkies. For those of you who would rather sip hemlock than follow the goings-on of the Labour Party conference, the Chancellor was making a speech in which he said, "It's been a privilege to work with Labour's most successful leader," at which point a Bloomberg journalist says she overheard Cherie saying, "Well, that's a lie." And then some governmental spoilsport denied she had said any such thing, in a feeble attempt to "disappear" the one truly interesting thing that's ever been said at a New Labour rally.

I not only hope and believe Cherie said it, I just wish she'd given fuller vent to her feelings: "You big, fat, lying, scheming, cheating, hypocritical, glass-eyed Scottish bastard" might have afforded better closure. Then Sarah Macaulay/Brown could've responded, "Well, your husband's a sanctimonious, deal-breaking, arse-licking narcissistic, neo-con nancy-boy twat, who likes Cliff Richard, so there!" I think we can all agree that this would be far more grown-up and dignified than their spouses standing on a platform before a TV audience of millions and pretending to admire one another.

What was great about Cherie's outburst was that it showed a political wife standing by her man in a way other women can actually relate to (i.e. not being a tight-lipped doormat whose husband has been shagging anything with a pulse and who's pressured into giving multiple interviews where she says she "understands" he was "under great pressure" because he was middle-aged/buck-toothed/bald/devious/sad/gay/ straight/insignificant/a Liberal Democrat). From Cherie's point of view, Brown is not merely a political opponent of her spouse, but someone who has been systematically undermining her best beloved and therefore deserves the unrestrained wrath of a Sicilian widow with an Uzi.

Nobody doubts that the Blairs, as captured brilliantly in Stephen Frears's film, The Queen, have a genuinely loving domestic partnership. And in such unions a woman will approach any threat to her husband with a Dalek-like simplicity: EXTERMINATE! Tact and discretion don't enter the picture.

Who can forget Pandora Maxwell effing and blinding and fierce as a she-wolf (there's a reason women are frequently compared to sharp-fanged predators) when the police arrived to arrest her husband Kevin for his part in Robert Maxwell's shenanigans? And what woman in living memory has stood by her man and destroyed his enemies as effectively as the ultra-fragrant Gail Sheridan, wife of the Scottish Socialist Party's leader, Tommy? By sheer effort of will and scathing dismissal of her husband's accusers' evidence, she turned the recent libel case in his favour. Whatever we think of the husbands, it's hard not to be dazzled by the nuclear wrath of the wives.

My own "deploy missile" button is far more readily activated by wounds to my husband than slights to myself. I hold such grievances closer to my heart and nurse them longer. No grudge goes relinquished until the glorious day of reparation dawns. My own Cherie-style "gaffe" occurred around 10 years ago, shortly after my husband had been fired as editor of GQ to make way for the younger, trendier, more media-savvy figure of James Brown. It wasn't Brown's fault that my husband had been "let go" and, in fairness to the management, my spouse eschewed Armani for ancient Shetland jumpers and was more interested in Spitfires and Herodotus than babes, footie and grooming. But I became incensed when Brown talked in various interviews of having taken over a magazine on the slide. As far as I know my husband's final ABC sales figure remains higher than that of either of his successors at the magazine. "Let it go," says my husband, "Drop it. Who cares?" To which the only answer is: "I do."

I nursed my pet grievance until the party for the Literary Review's Bad Sex Awards in 1997, where someone pointed out Brown to me. I shadowed him across the room then tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me, are you James Brown?" He turned with a winning smile and said, "Yes?" At which my crazy-wife-stalker thing kicked in and I said, "I just want to tell you that you are not worthy to lick the boots of my husband Angus MacKinnon." He looked, momentarily, as shaken as you'd expect after being unexpectedly mauled by someone else's deranged wife. Then showing the resilience, charm and low-down cunning that has made Brown such a media success story, he proceeded to utterly disarm me by saying what a wonderful journalist my husband was. He even told colourful anecdotes from my husband's NME days, which reflected glory on my spouse. My volcano was reduced to a small pile of tepid ash.

When I got home and relayed the encounter to my husband, the blood drained from his face at the mortifying horror of the woman he had married. He hung his head in his hands and moaned, "Poor, poor James."

I'd like to say I have grown more mature since then, but only a couple of years ago I had to be restrained from emptying a glass of wine over a woman who had once been inexplicably beastly to my beloved. Hell hath no fury like the wife of a man scorned.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Hang on – that’s not how it’s supposed to be written

Guy Keleny
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test